Medulloblastoma in Children

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Medulloblastoma accounts for 15% to 20% of all brain tumors in children, making it one of the most common cancerous pediatric brain tumors. Medulloblastoma usually occurs in children between ages 3 and 8, but can be seen in children or adults of any age.

Medulloblastoma is a cancer in the cerebellum. El cerebelo es la parte del cerebro que controla la coordinación, el equilibrio y las funciones motoras complejas. La afección ocurre con mayor frecuencia en la parte central del cerebelo.

Medulloblastoma is a very fast-growing cancer. It often spreads to other areas of the central nervous system, including the spinal cord, through cerebrospinal fluid.

En muchos casos, se desconoce por qué se desarrolla el meduloblastoma. Para algunos niños, el meduloblastoma está asociado a afecciones hereditarias, como el síndrome de Li-Fraumeni, el síndrome de Gorlin y el síndrome de Turcot.

The board-certified pediatric neuroscience and cancer specialists with Norton Children’s Brain & Spinal Tumor Program collaborate to evaluate each case of medulloblastoma. They bring their individual experience, training and skills to regular case reviews to build a customized treatment plan for each child.

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The Norton Children’s Cancer Institute Neuro-oncology Clinic care team suggested an advanced regimen of chemotherapy, limited radiation and a stem cell transplant — 10 months of treatment in all.

The overall five-year survival rate for kids with medulloblastoma is about 65%, according to a 2018 study in The Lancet Oncology. Many go on to live longer and many are cured, meaning no traces of cancer remain.

Many treatment advances have been discovered in recent years, and the prognosis for children with medulloblastoma continues to improve.

The neuroscience and oncology specialists with the Norton Children’s Brain & Spinal Tumor Program are working to lengthen life expectancy for kids with brain tumors. They stay at the forefront of research into new treatments, conduct clinical trials of new drugs and therapies, and publish their findings in prestigious medical journals so others can benefit from their discoveries.

The Brain & Spinal Tumor Program is a collaboration of Norton Children’s Neuroscience Institute and Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, both affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine.

Medulloblastoma Symptoms

Los tumores cerebrales como el meduloblastoma pueden causar una variedad de síntomas en los niños según la edad y la ubicación del tumor. Symptoms can resemble other more common and less dangerous conditions. Cada niño experimentará los síntomas de manera diferente.

Medulloblastoma in the cerebellum can cause issues with walking, balance and/or fine motor skills.

If the cancer is causing hydrocephalus, impeding the flow of cerebrospinal fluid or putting pressure on healthy structures of the brain, symptoms may include:

  • Blurred and double vision
  • Confusión
  • Somnolencia extrema
  • Dolores de cabeza
  • Náusea
  • Seizures and passing out
  • Vómitos

If medulloblastoma has reached the spinal cord, symptoms may include:

  • Arm and/or leg weakness and/or numbness
  • Bowel or bladder habit changes
  • Spinal pain

Tratamiento del meduloblastoma

An initial diagnosis often can be made based on MRI findings. Medulloblastoma will appear on an MRI as a solid mass in the cerebellum and will brighten with contrast.

After surgery to remove the tumor, the tissue is evaluated by a neuropathologist to confirm a diagnosis of medulloblastoma.

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The specialists with Norton Children’s Brain & Spinal Tumor Program work with patients and their families to develop a treatment plan unique to each child’s condition. El plan de tratamiento tomará como base los siguientes factores:

  • Edad, estado actual de salud e historia clínica del niño
  • Ubicación, tamaño y tipo de tumor
  • Estado actual de la enfermedad
  • Tolerancia a medicamentos, terapias y procedimientos
  • Curso esperado de la afección
  • Multiple opinions from specialists in neuroscience, cancer, pathology and more

Surgery typically is the first treatment for medulloblastoma as long as the tumor can be accessed without too much risk. The surgeon will remove as much of the tumor as possible without affecting healthy brain tissue. After surgery, the tumor is evaluated for a more precise diagnosis.

Follow-up treatments are typical and can include radiation therapy to the brain and spine to attack the cancer’s tendency to spread. Chemotherapy also may be part of the treatment plan, depending on the type of medulloblastoma and extent of any spread.

El Norton Children’s Cancer Institute es miembro establecido del Children’s Oncology Group. El Children’s Oncology Group es el grupo de hospitales que tratan a niños con cáncer más grande del mundo. Our involvement means patients have access to innovative new treatments through clinical trials.

What to Expect From Norton Children’s Brain & Spinal Tumor Program 

  • If your child has just been diagnosed, we offer same-day and next business day appointments for urgent referrals.
  • Each child’s case is reviewed by a board of specialists who discuss possible treatment plans, so the patient benefits from a broad array of expertise, experience, training and research.
  • Neurologists, oncologists and other specialists see patients at the same location, making travel easier for families because appointments are scheduled for the same day.
  • Board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at the forefront of new treatment advances work to attack tumors while protecting healthy brain and spinal tissue.
  • Norton Children’s Hospital is part of an elite group of pediatric hospitals that perform MRI-guided laser ablation surgery using the minimally invasive Visualase system to destroy diseased tissue, including deep brain tumors.
  • Support groups, social workers, psychiatrists, school liaison specialists and child life specialists identify and address the needs of patients and their families during and after medical treatment.
  • We help prepare for the transition back to school, determine appropriate educational placement and identify any additional services through a neuropsychologist evaluation.
  • Integrated rehabilitation by physical and occupational therapists begins as early as possible during treatment to give patients the greatest benefit.
  • Communicate with your provider, manage appointments, refill prescriptions and more anytime from a computer or mobile device with a free Norton MyChart account.

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